Recently, a provocative article in a Hungarian newspaper has caused a stir in the Czech Republic. The article suggests that Hungary should have taken advantage of the situation in 1968 and annexed parts of southern Czechoslovakia, which still has a large Hungarian population. The article has been met with skepticism and criticism, with Czech historian Michal Stehlík calling it out for spreading historical lies and nationalist rhetoric.
One of the main arguments in the article is that the Hungarian soldiers who occupied Czechoslovakia in 1968 were not occupiers but liberators welcomed by the Hungarian population. Stehlík refutes this claim, stating that there is no evidence to suggest that the Hungarian soldiers were welcomed as liberators. Instead, their presence was viewed as an occupation by outside forces.
Stehlík also takes issue with the author’s use of the term “Upper Hungary,” which he says is an attempt to suggest that this area is an inseparable part of Hungary’s historical crown, Great Hungary.
The article also suggests that a just adjustment of the borders based on ethnic identity could have been achieved in 1968. Stehlík disagrees, stating that the occupation’s primary goal was to alleviate Czechoslovakia’s reforms and establish a compliant regime. No one made territorial demands then, which would have only worsened the situation.
The controversy doesn’t end there. The article also claims that the Beneš decrees, which authorized the confiscation of property from individuals deemed Nazi collaborators, are still in effect today and that the Slovak state is still expropriating land and forests from Hungarian owners. Stehlík calls this claim manipulative and false, stating that the Hungarian minority in Slovakia currently has maximum national rights. Furthermore, no solid political party represents the Hungarian population in the Slovak parliament.
While the article may have caused a stir, it is essential to separate truth from fiction. Stehlík asserts that the article is spreading historical lies and nationalist rhetoric and that the situation in 1968 was not an opportunity for Hungary to annex parts of Czechoslovakia. Instead, it was an occupation aimed at suppressing reforms and establishing a compliant regime. It is crucial to approach historical events objectively and accurately rather than using them to further political agendas.